Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Appalachia and America

Let me say right up front that I don't think someone should vote for Obama soley because he is black, though some people probably will do that.
Let me say also, that I've never been to Appalachia.
Those preliminaries aside, I've looked at the electoral map that shows the counties in the US that have gone 65% to Hillary and they are nearly all in Appalachia. Appalachia it seems is a world unto itself.
Obama has won rural states with overwhelmingly white populations like Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Nebraska and North Dakota. It's not like he hasn't shown the ability to connect with Americans of every color and ethnicity. So what gives with Appalachia?
The role race and gender play in shaping people's perceptions is enormously difficult to gauge. Yet there seems little doubt that these factors sometimes trump almost everything else where certain people are concerned.
The clip which follows offers a peek into just how intractable to reason and factual information racial attitudes can be. Remember, these folks are all lifelong Democrats, second and third generation Democrats. As you watch, ask yourself whether any white politician from either party has to repeatedly set the record straight about his avowed religious faith (Christian), about his place of birth (America), about his citizenship (American), about his pledge of allegiance to the flag (he does), about his singing the national anthem (he does),or whether he loves his country.
John McCain says he's a Christian; we take him at his word. Hillary says it; we take her at her word. Obama says it; well, he can say whatever he wants, we don't have to believe it because we have anonymous group emails that say otherwise.

More and more I'm convinced that this election is not about the aspirations of African-Americans or of a black man running for President; rather, it's whether white America really knows how to be color blind when it chooses it's next president or if it's only been paying lip service to that ideal all these years.

McCain can win the general election, and it doesn't have to mean that we're a racist nation. But if Obama loses for reasons like the ones given in this video, well, that will be a bitter pill to swallow. I tend to think that Appalachia is an anomaly rather than a microcosm of America.


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